Is it safe in Bangkok?

Is Bangkok Safe

Many people have been misled by the cruel and misleading media world about the recent coup and curfew in Bangkok, Thailand which has left travelers of all sorts to ask this question - Is it safe in Bangkok? Well, let me give you my story on a trip I did in early June 2014 to attend the Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2014 or TTM+ which is the largest business to business (B2B) travel and tourism trade show here. 

Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2014
Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2014 or TTM+ 2014
The TTM+ takes place alongside the Thailand Tourism Fair where both events are at the Impact Muang Thong Thani exhibition center, about 30 minutes drive from Bangkok city. As I got in on Thai Airways, I was picked up at Suvarnabhumi International airport by the Grand Centara Hotel limousine and whisked away through the elevated highway into the city center. Curious enough, kept an eye out for the so called military enforcement that was supposed to be stationed all over Bangkok. 

However, I have to report that there was only one post which was not even fully manned  by the side of the highway. Blink of an eye and you would have missed it. The toll highway is pretty impressive as traffic flows smoothly, until you exit into the city’s main shopping area. I would easily say that the amount of time spend in the city traffic was equally the amount of time it took to get from the airport to the city exit.  

Life is normal on the streets of Bangkok 
Life is normal in Bangkok

People were going about their daily chores, tourist walking around looking at the roadside vendors, locals buying Thai street food from the hawkers, motorbike taxis snaking their way through the traffic, frustrated tuk tuk drivers and passengers looking for some wind to cool themselves down and traffic policemen blowing their whistles like there’s no tomorrow. 

Platinum Mall at Pratunam
Just outside Platinum Mall at Pratunam
Signs of these indicated that life was indeed normal here in Bangkok and the best part of my experience in a traffic jam was that I saw no military personal in the city area, not even one soldier. This was quite contradicting to what I have been reading the the mainstream newspapers and also the television reports. Simply said - The media loves to hype things up and exaggerate news in order for consumers to watch their channel or buy their news papers. 

As for the curfew, yes there is one imposed but only from midnight till 4 in the morning. That was recently lifted from a slightly longer hour since the military took control of the government. On the 6th June, three main tourism cities of Chiang Mai, Phuket and Ko Samui had the curfew lifted completely in early June and recently in the 2nd week of June, 20 cities and islands across Thailand had the curfews lifted overall. 

Centara Grand Hotel in Central World
The view from my room at the Centara Grand Hotel in Bangkok 
Where I Stayed in Bangkok

Knowing that this would be the busiest place in Bangkok, I put up at the Grand Centara Hotel in Central World Shopping Mall and my room came with a stunning view of Bangkok city from the 41st floor. Every night before I went to bed, I would take a peek outside the window to see how the streets were. As a matter of fact, there were still taxis and bikes moving about, not much though. 

Traffic at 3pm in Central Bangkok
In the day, I would walk around the famous shopping district of Pratunam, well known for their apparel wholesale shops and find that everyone was busy either selling or shopping. Hoards of tourist from the world over can be seen here, some even with their infants. So, that perception of Bangkok not being safe was already thrown out of the window for me. I casually strolled around off the main streets to explore the lanes where thousands of vendors sell all kinds of items. Tourist being tourist were also seen roaming these areas where locals tend to visit. 

The main streets which are well known for their horrendous traffic jams were no better than when I last visited Bangkok in 2012. On the good side, traffic was moving, just a slow pace. Overall, traffic can be a nightmare in the popular parts of Bangkok. For example, a street which leads into a clothing bazaar and back to another street, you can find motorbikes tweeting their horns trying to take a short cut. 

Traffic at 8pm in Central Bangkok
When I travel, I love to explore the local food scene, and Bangkok city is well known for this. Forget those expensive restaurants as prices are quadruple of what you get on the roads. The best time to explore this is in the evenings when hundreds if not thousands of these street hawkers operate from the side of the roads. As I went around the off roads of Pratunam area, spotting a policeman was even hard, not to say army personal. Business was thriving for the local hawkers while tourist contemplate on eating at which stall. 

What I did in Bangkok

Overall, my mornings was spent going to the TTM+ while my afternoons was spent roaming the shopping streets of Pratunam. In the night, I would walk and try to find very local street hawkers which are off the main roads. And all of these, I never once saw any army personal or roadblocks in the areas. I even had the luxury of taking a BTS and MRT trains to Huay Kwang to meet a friend who was also visiting Bangkok during the same time. 


Huay Kwang is more commonly known as a local area where there are night markets, food stalls and lots of clubs. Even at this area, people were going about their daily life with no worry. During my Som Tam dinner, I managed to catch the NCPO general giving a speech on national television at the restaurant. I was pleased to know that his entire speech had subtitles in English for the foreigners to know what he was conveying. 

For that 10 minutes, I stared at the television where the general mentioned about the many reasons why the curfew was imposed. Overall, the summary is that the current issues faced in Thailand is mainly politically related and trouble makers from out of Bangkok were brought in to incite chaos, however these are not the Bangkok citizens as many locals told me. So, the military has imposed the curfew to rid of these people by rounding them up. So far, they have been doing a great job in maintaining the order of the country. 

Below are various random photos taken during my trip to Bangkok;

Som Tham and Khanom Chin
Som Tham and Khanom Chin, authentic local Thai food
Baiyoke Night Market, Pratunam Bangkok
Baiyoke Night Market in Pratunam 
Thai Grilled Sausages
My favourite - Thai Grilled Sausages that are sold on the streets
Grand Diamond Plaza Bangkok
Grand Diamond Plaza along Central Bangkok
Bangkok Street Vendors Photo
Street vendors along Central Bangkok - Business is as usual
Thailand Tourism Festival 2014 Bangkok
Thailand Tourism Festival 2014 in Bangkok
The massive hall where the Thailand Tourism Fair 2014 is held
Bangkok with a magnificent view

Finally, if you are visiting Bangkok anytime soon, do make it a point to check out the Red Sky Bar on the 55th floor of the Grand Centara Hotel. There is a restaurant on the 55th floor while the Red Sky Bar is one level higher. This open deck with a 360 degree view of Bangkok city is absolutely stunning. The best time to visit this place is just before sunset at about 6pm. However, go early to get the best seats. They have a happy hour from 5 to 7pm where various beers, wines and liquors are buy one get one free. Prices are affordable at 290++ Baht, which if you ask me, is very worth it for the experience. 

I went up twice to capture photos of Bangkok city, once in the evening and one more time at night. I f you ever wanted to see how big is Bangkok, this is the recommended place. Dress code is smart casual, but you can go with your shorts and shoes too - only if you're a tourist. 

Photo of Bangkok City at night
Bangkok City at night, taken from the Red Sky Bar at Centara Grand Hotel
For me, I have visited Bangkok numerous times since 1988 and have seen the city change rapidly over the decades. The best times were in the late eighties and early nineties before the BTS trains came about. That was the true Bangkok city which was vibrant and exciting. With advancement and technology, Bangkok now looks just like any other city but is a must visit for anyone who has never been to Thailand. 

The hospitality of the people there is simply amazing where everywhere you go, the local Thai people will wish you with the clasped palms or ‘Wai’. Overall the city is very safe and shopping is one of the main reasons that visitors come to Bangkok, apart from the Thai experience. So if you are questioning yourself if Bangkok is safe? Let me just say that it is 110% safe. I stayed here from 4-7 June, barely two weeks after the coup and curfew but life was normal there. For more information, please visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand Website. Thailand is amazing and a great place to eat, shop and explore. Sawadee Khrap.  


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